Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has appointed his wife Mehriban as the country’s ‘First Vice President’.
Azerbaijan’s president appointed his wife as the first vice president of the ex-Soviet nation, the person next in line in the nation’s power hierarchy.
Aliyev’s order naming Mehriban Aliyeva to the newly created No. 2 post was published on the presidential website. The opposition parties denounced the move as a ‘first step to the establishment of an absolute monarchy’.
Mehriban’s official title will be First Vice President. The post was introduced last year last September following a public referendum on constitutional reform. The new constitution, however, does not stipulate the duties the role entails, although it is expected to include overseeing the President’s cabinet.
“Aliyeva has been playing an important role in social, political, cultural and international activities for many years,” the president said, presenting his wife and new appointee at a session of his Security Council on February 21.
“In general, her multifaceted activities have been successful. I have taken into account exactly these factors when making the decision to appoint her to the post of the first vice president of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said.
Ilham Aliyev, 55 named his wife Mehriban, 52, to the position created after a constitutional referendum. Mehriban, who married her husband when she was 19, graduated from a medical university. She has served previously as a lawmaker and headed a charity.
The vice president takes over the country’s presidency if the president is unable to perform their duties, according to the constitution. It doesn’t describe the first vice president’s duties, but it’s expected that they will include overseeing the Cabinet.
Opposition lawmakers have denounced the appointment of Mehriban as First Vice President, describing it as an abuse of power by the ruling family.
“This appointment shows disrespect to the people,” Ali Kerimli, the leader of Azerbaijan’s opposition Popular Front Party, said. “It’s the first step to the establishment of an absolute monarchy in the country.”
The leader of the opposition Equality Party, Isa Gambar, said that the move “throws Azerbaijan back to medieval, feudal times. Family rule has no place in the 21st century”.